Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Prologues - Yay or Nay?

I started a book last week and my mum looked over my shoulder and the following conversation went something like :-

(Mum) "You're not reading the prologue, are you?"

(Me) "Yes."

(Mum) "I never read the prologue. Why are you reading the prologue?"

(Me) "Because it's part of the story." ??!?

Which got me to wondering - surely most readers read the prologue don't they?

Maybe it's because I read a lot of murder mystery and urban fantasy, and you generally find that if there's a prologue it's important and usually three-quarters of the way through the actual book there's a big reveal and suddenly everything that happened in the prologue makes sense.

I'm sure there have been cases where I haven't wanted to read a prologue, where I've been put off a story by a badly written / boring one.

I have a vague memory of books where the prologue seems to have been a very dry recounting of either a world's history or a character's genealogy. And I admit I probably skipped those. But in general, at least these days I read the prologue. (If anything I'm more likely to skip the epilogue, especially those that seem to consist of a single page at the end - they got married and had children.)

What about you? Do you read the prologue or skip it? I have a copy of the Cravings anthology to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen on Sunday by random number at


Nicole said...

I'm not entering this one, but wanted to weigh in anyway. :)

I read prologues. I read diary entries, and letters, and usually even author acknowledgements. I read nearly everything that comes at the beginning of a novel -- except dictionaries. I don't care that the author has kindly provided a dictionary to his or her language at the front of the book; I know where it is now, thank you, and will reference it as needed. But I don't read my English dictionary for fun; I'm not going to read one in a made up language for fun, either.

Sarai said...

I love prologues. If they are well written and pertain to the story. Hell I even like them if it sets up the world (but I read a lot of fantasy).

HATE epilogues and I truely mean I hate them unless and it has to be a big UNLESS. It involves the next story happening. But God help the author if she throws in a SURPRISE MIRCLE baby or something b/c Lord I'm done.

But that's a personal issue and not one you are right about ;) Sorry.

Chris said...

Not entering. I read the prologue, but I get cranky if it sets up a situation that leaves me anxious and worried about the characters while I read the rest of the book.

Marg said...

I read everything. Prologue, dedications. Everything! lol

Sullivan McPig said...

Why would you not read the prologue? To me that's like skipping chapter 6 (for example).

So yes: I read prologues and everything else that's part of the story. (in addition I also read dedications, acknowledgements and stuff like that.)

Anonymous said...

I always read the prologue.

Especially if the big is part of a series and I am jumping in at book 3, or 4, or whatever. There is often some important information there.

Or there is a backflash of the hero and heroine that is important to the future story being told.

Yes, I believe that prologues are a part of the story.

in Germany

LesleyW said...

Nicole - I'm glad I'm not the only one. Though I admit I often skip over glossaries and dictionaries. I pretty much know that no matter how an author tells me to pronounce something I'm still going to pronounce it my own way, even if it's wrong.

Sarai - definitely seems to be prologues yay! overall

LesleyW said...

Chris - you don't like the cranky feeling? :)

Marg - I try to read as much as possible (except for the aforementioned glossaries) 'cause you never know what's going to be important.

Sullivan - v. good point about chapter 6. :)

LesleyW said...

Valerie - it's not often that I miss the first book in a series. But I do appreciate when an author is able to get the backstory in, so I can follow what's going on.